Back Bay Architectural Commission Denies Sliding Gate at Rear Parking Spot

By Beth Treffeisen

What seemed like a simple proposal to place a gated fence in front of a parking spot at the rear of 55 Commonwealth Ave. soon became a slight controversy.

The Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) denied without prejudice, with objection from Commissioner John Commissioner Christiansen, the use of a sliding gate in the back of a residential building to create a protected parking spot.

Jonathan Miller, from Frank Shirley Architects, who was representing the owners of the accompanying townhouse proposed adding the gate to the parking area of the property to provide added security. In the past, Miller said, the owners have had their cars vandalized and have had people sleeping in the area because of the heated pavement.

The gate itself will be aluminum, power coated black with a curved arch on top. The number of the house will be displayed in the middle.

“It looks kind of grand like you’re going into an estate or something,” said Patti Quinn a Commissioner from the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB).

Commissioner David Eisen agreed, he said, “That humpback just calls ‘pretentious’ and attention to itself.”

It will slide open, over the abutting garage door using an automatic system. Once the car goes through it will slide back shut.

The gate will not swing open or close because the parking area doesn’t have room for it to swing inwards with the car in it and the owners didn’t want to hit anything if it swung outwards.

“It all seems a bit odd,” said Eisen about the how the gate will operate.

The gate will be about three feet from the sidewalk. It will only slide open when the owner is entering or leaving the spot.

“I’m concerned about the strength and durability,” said Kathleen Connor the Chair of BBAC. “Sometimes there are more intense traffic issues within the city.”

She asked if the company had any tests or proof of the sturdiness of the fence.

Miller said, “As far as denting or bending I do not have a personal experience but my company has installed these before and we haven’t seen any issues.”

Susan Prindle of NABB voiced concerns about any noise that it would make when it closes. She said, further on down the alley many residents have elected not to use their garage doors anymore because it makes a big clang.

Miller said that it the gate is “not extraordinary loud.”

Prindle said that she walked the area before the meeting and she found that a lot of the gates are left unused because of problems.

“The design aspect of the gate seems reasonable but the functionally of it is questionable,” said Connor. “They may invest all this money but it might not work to the level that they want to.”

The Commission asked that the applicant come back next month with more details and have a design that has a straight line across the gate with a simple number in the back.

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